How Car Companies Are Blasting Trump's Import Investigation

(Bloomberg) -- Two words sum up how auto companies are portraying the future if the Trump administration determines that car imports are a national security threat and slaps imported vehicles and parts with tariffs: doom and gloom.

The U.S. Commerce Department started conducting the investigation in late May at the behest of President Donald Trump, whose administration is said to be considering tariffs of as much as 25 percent.

More than 2,300 comments have been submitted to Commerce ahead of hearings scheduled for July 19 and 20. Here’s a selection of submissions from some of the world’s biggest car and parts manufacturers:

General Motors

  • Has 47 manufacturing facilities and employs about 110,000 in the U.S.
  • Invested more than $22 billion in domestic manufacturing operations since 2009, and conducts most of its R&D, design, engineering, vehicle testing, information technology, purchasing, finance, marketing and other business operations in the U.S.
  • Says tariffs “could lead to a smaller GM” and risks resulting in “less -- not more -- U.S. jobs” by increasing costs and spurring retaliation by countries that could hurt the company in other markets

Ford, Fiat Chrysler

  • On behalf of members GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, the American Automotive Policy Council says any increase in U.S. tariffs on cars, trucks and parts will undermine the companies’ economic contributions to the country
  • Estimates a 25 percent levy would be an $83 billion tax burden for the U.S. auto industry and consumers

Toyota

  • Has 10 manufacturing plants and an eleventh being constructed soon with Mazda Motor Corp. that directly or indirectly employs 137,000 people
  • Has invested almost $25 billion in the U.S. to design, engineering, manufacture and sell Toyota and Mazda vehicles
  • Says a 25 percent tariff on imported vehicles and parts would raise the price even of the Kentucky-built Camry sedan -- the top-selling car in America -- by about $1,800

Nissan

  • Has invested $11.8 billion in U.S. manufacturing, employs 22,000 directly and boasts the country’s biggest vehicle production facility, in Tennessee
  • “Given the breadth and health of our operations here in the United States, we could easily meet the U.S. military’s requirements without the need to restrict importation of either automobiles or auto parts”

BMW

  • Has invested almost $9 billion in its South Carolina plant and is also the only manufacturer that produces more cars than it sells in the U.S.
  • Higher tariffs on imported parts will increase costs of building cars in the U.S., potentially leading to “strongly reduced” export volumes, a negative effect on investment and employment that could more than offset “forced” localization of production to supply products to the market

Daimler

  • Employs more than 24,000 in the U.S. across operations including its Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicle and van businesses, financial services unit and research-and-development operation
  • “New tariffs on imported parts will result in a reduction of vehicles being produced in Alabama. Lower production volumes will result in fewer shifts with fewer U.S. employees”

Volkswagen

  • Employs about 3,500 at plant in Tennessee and directly supports almost 50,000 U.S. jobs
  • The company “does not see how continuing imports of automobiles and automotive parts at current levels could impair U.S. national security” and says that “this proposition -- supported by no U.S. motor vehicle manufacturer -- is implausible”

Hyundai

  • Employs more than 25,000 workers and has invested almost $8.3 billion in the U.S., with another 47,000 employed at dealerships
  • Says duties would be “devastating” and could jeopardize its plans to expand manufacturing in the U.S., plus hurt Trump’s effort to halt North Korea’s nuclear ambitions

Volvo

  • Opened first U.S. auto plant in South Carolina a few weeks ago and has almost 300 dealers
  • Half of the 4,000 employees planned for the factory are related to exports, and if the company can’t trade freely, “those U.S. jobs may not be created at all”

Jaguar Land Rover

  • Employs 8,000 directly or through its retailers in the U.S., and another 2,500 through its supplier and distribution network
  • Says the adverse economic effect of tariffs may be “of far greater consequence than the perceived national security benefit”

Mazda

  • If a 25 percent tariff is imposed on imported vehicles, the company may change plans to invest in its dealer network and in a new plant it’s building with Toyota in Alabama
  • Says it’s “greatest concern is that consumers will lose interest in buying cars,” and warns that “every area of the U.S. economy and employment will be affected, including research and development, manufacturing and sales”

Continental AG

  • World’s second-biggest car components supplier employs more than 20,000 workers at 88 facilities in the U.S. Since 2011, has invested almost $5 billion in the U.S. in new and expanded projects as well as mergers and acquisitions that have tripled U.S.-based manufacturing
  • Estimates tariffs to increase cost of a vehicle for U.S. consumers by at least $4,000. Many components, raw materials, machinery can’t be sourced in the U.S. and establishing regional manufacturing lines is cost prohibitive

Magna International

  • Top supplier to automakers in the U.S. and North America, with more than 27,000 people employed in 58 manufacturing operations and 13 product development, engineering and sales centers
  • Says tariffs and other barriers would “weaken the U.S. economy and threaten to undermine the entire U.S. automotive industry, putting American global competitiveness at risk and making the U.S. a less attractive place to invest”

Valeo

  • French parts maker for every major global automaker, with 4,300 U.S. employees in 25 plants, R&D centers and administrative offices says it can’t “flip a switch” and change suppliers of sub-components
  • Putting up trade barriers “plays into the hands of low quality, copycat and bargain suppliers who are proliferating in low-cost countries and are degrading the overall industry”

BorgWarner

  • Supplier of turbochargers and other powertrain components employs 6,300 people in eight U.S. states, and says more than 60 percent of its intellectual property resides in the country
  • If company were to request that the carmakers it supplies parts to absorbs increased cost due to tariffs, the customer may request that BorgWarner shift production to another one of its facilities outside of the U.S., or choose a supplier based in another country

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